Mac Jones headed into Week 12 without knowing if he would remain under center for the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick eventually kept him as a starter, but it took only the first half for the coach to send Bailey Zappe to the field.

Coach O’Brien told me I was out and I understood, Jones said, via NESN. I wasn’t moving the ball, and I wasn’t scoring points. So, I understood why that happened. It was just bad quarterback play, and not good enough by me.”

Jones got off to a terrible start at MetLife Stadium, completing 12 of 21 passes for 89 yards with two interceptions and a fumble. The Patriots went to halftime trailing 0-7, and the Alabama product stayed on the bench when they returned to the field.

It’s my job to go out there and play well regardless of the circumstance, so there’s no excuses not to,” Jones said. “I had a few bad throws and just wasn’t on the same page as the offense today, so I gotta do a better job of creating that standard and making sure we communicate.”

This was the fourth time Jones was benched this season. Zappe came on for the first time during the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4, and once again replaced Jones in another terrible defeat to the New Orleans Saints the following week. In Week 10, before the team’s bye, Belichick also made a quarterback move during the 6-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany.

Bailey Zappe hopes to start against the Chargers

Yeah, that’d be great, Zappe said when asked if he would like to have more starter reps this week. “But that’s Coach Belichick’s decision. Whatever he decides, if he wants to do — whatever. I’ll do whatever he says.”

Despite the quarterback change, the Patriots didn’t show much of an improvement in the second half. They did manage to score a touchdown thanks to running back Rhamondre Stevenson, but Zappe still left much to be desired.

His nine of 14 completions went to targets no longer than five yards, totaling -4 air yards. Zappe managed to put the Patriots in a position to attempt a field goal to force overtime, but he had previously thrown a costly interception that set up the Giants’ field goal. Even so, Belichick refused to say who will start next week.

That’s Coach Belichick’s decision,” the second-year quarterback insisted when asked if he would like to get the chance to start. If I start, I’m going to do everything I can like I have the past times I’ve started and try to go out there and win.”

Patriots clinch losing record

Regardless of what they do from now on, the Patriots will finish the 2023 NFL season with a losing record. Sitting at 2-9 after 12 weeks, there’s simply no way to avoid it. Therefore, it’s uncertain whether Belichick will make a quarterback change since it seems useless at this point.

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Neither Jones nor Zappe have proven to be the answer this year, but at least the former Alabama quarterback did give reasons for optimism in the past. He made an impression in his rookie year, but took some steps back in 2022. Zappe did well in his two starts last season, but it was a very small sample size. In 2023, his time on the field was quite disappointing.

The Patriots will host the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 3, with not much at stake other than avoiding a fifth-straight loss that would make their year even more underwhelming.